Daniel Rey

How 20th-century artists rescued the Crucifixion

After centuries of sanitisation, modern representations have imbued Christ’s death with its original potency

‘Crucifixion’, 1946, by Graham Sutherland. Credit: © Gordon Roberton Photography Archive/Bridgeman Images

Two millennia ago, in the outer reaches of the empire, the Romans performed a routine execution of a Galilean rebel. Tortured and publicly humiliated in front of family and friends, Jesus of Nazareth was slowly asphyxiated over six hours.

The Crucifixion is the centrepiece of Christianity. But artists have long adapted the devotional image of the Cross for their own purposes.

Already a subscriber? Log in

Keep reading with a free trial

Subscribe and get your first month of online and app access for free. After that it’s just £1 a week.

There’s no commitment, you can cancel any time.


Unlock more articles



Don't miss out

Join the conversation with other Spectator readers. Subscribe to leave a comment.

Already a subscriber? Log in